|International bus station in Maputo|
From Naas I went to Mananga (called Lebombo on the Swaziland side), one of the several borders between South Africa and Swaziland. Entering Swaziland is quite easy and costless. You just have to fill out an entry form and then you get a stamp. They don't even state for how long you are allowed to stay. Discussing the matter with an ex state prosecutor, I learned it was allowed to stay indefinitely as long as you don't work. When crossing the actual gate, I handed over my gate slip and asked for directions on what bus I should next take to go to the Mozambican border. Not knowing, they advised me to go and check it out with the waiting taxi-busses. The drivers told me I would have to go to Simunye, and from there catch another ride to Lomahasha. When I asked again once sitting in the bus, the guy next to me, Armando, told me he was Mozambican and that he was on his way there as well. He had to cross the border there to exit South Africa so as to be allowed in again in Ressano Garcia next time. He's got no working visa for SA. This taxi drove criss-cross through the countryside and stopped at every sugar-field corner. It was very slow going. When we got to Mapife (close to Simunye), we got out and went to look for the bus to Lomahashe, the Swaziland border post to Mozambique. A small delivery truck was stopping there briefly, and Armando didn't miss the chance to ask him for a ride to the border post. So we jumped onto tires sitting on paint buckets. The truck was hooded so it was difficult to watch out from under it, but I caught glimpses of the beautiful scenery unfolding, which is not unlike Switzerland. This trip was getting most interesting and exciting. Arriving in the settlement of Lomahasha we jumped off and each gave the driver R 10 for the trip. We walked towards the border and I started getting nervous again. Would they let me in or not ?
|Yuli Restaurant & Bar in Manzini, Swaziland|
Seeing that my last visa had expired two months previously, and that the exit stamp was dated of the current day, they didn't like that I tried to get in again. They told me I had to go get a visa from either embassy in Mbabane, Swaziland or Nelspruit, South Africa. We tried to convince them to make me a new visa, but nothing would do. We then walked out of the border post, walked around the building, and up to the gate where we tried to bribe my way into the country without a stamp. That was actually exactly what I didn't want to do, but somewhere in my mind, I just wanted to go back to Mozambique. But I was glad it failed, because being illegal in the country once, was more than enough. I didn't fully realize what I was trying to do at that moment, but when I did, it was over anyway. Unfortunately, they revoked Armando's entry, so that we both had to go back to Swaziland. He spoke to some guys who, he said, would be trying to slip us into the country. Once I established that they wanted to get me in without a visa again, I refused. I told Armando he'd probably get in without me, so we split. He accompanied me to the next departing taxi, and then left. I didn't take his number and he never called or sent any message. So I never knew if he managed to get in.
After leaving the hilly parts we drove through sugar-fields again. We arrived in Manzini in the early evening. The town is about a hundred kilometers away from Lomahasha. Sicelo led me to the Park Hotel where I checked in and went to my room. I called Gizela to tell her I wouldn't be back at Edna's place tonight and that I was fine. After a good shower to wash off the sweat I felt much better. I never planned to visit Swaziland, and much less to spend the night there, but it felt good to travel and visit unknown places again. Five months in Tofo without much moving around (except between Tofo, Inhambane and Maxixe) had made me lazy. That day inspired me to go out and travel the world again. Being on the road with a goal set, is one of the best ways of traveling. I have difficulty to just roam around with no goal whatsoever. I wish the goal was more pleasant than trying to get back into Mozambique. I wouldn't even try so hard if I hadn't left all my stuff in Tofo, thinking I would be back after 2 or 3 days at the most.
After my shower and the call to Gizela I went out to Yuli Bar & Restaurant which is located across the street from the hotel. I was having a beer or two and three samosas there when I met Pxila Zlamini, a former state prosecutor in Swaziland. We exchanged some views and ideas and he told me a few stories of criminals in Swaziland. He told me to call him the next day if it didn't work out with my visa, as he could maybe pull some strings and help me out.
After that I went back to the hotel and tried to sleep.